The organizers with their Class on Pro D-Day
On October 19th, First Things First Okanagan sponsored a field trip for public school teachers as one of the education committee's projects. The half-day trip was a success on all levels. Imagine a dozen teachers being chauffeured in a comfortable winery tour van on a sunny Okanagan afternoon, all keen on gaining knowledge about solar energy. The first destination was Summerland's Arts Centre where Landon Aldridge, BC's Director of Operations for SkyFire Energy, had a solar panel installation in progress.
Landon pointed out and explained what the workers were doing and showed the participants the hardware required. Everything about solar panels was discussed, from where material was sourced, to timeframes, life expectancy, and cost.
Tami Rothery, Sustainability & Alternative Energy Coordinator for the District of Summerland dropped by and mentioned that it is helpful for community members to see solar structures on civic buildings as an example of what "walking the talk" looks like in Summerland, with more solar projects in the future.
On the return trip, driver Darren Sweet gave fascinating insight into his Ogopogo Tours' commitment to sustainable transportation, such as using non-fossil fuels and carbon offsets.
At Penticton High School, we climbed a ladder to inspect roof-top solar panels and examined the inverters, the key component in transferring direct current produced by the solar panels into usable alternating current.
School District 67 Facilities Director, Doug Gorcak described the energy savings brought about by changing many of the district's schools from gas heating to geothermal and solar.
Both Doug and Landon used computer graphics to wrap up the session and answer a wide array of questions. In summary, this field trip was a success with the participants staying late to learn more. We thank Darren and Doug and FTFO directors who volunteered their time, expertise and resources for this field trip.
Several teachers will encourage their students to choose research on solar energy as a class project. Others feel better equipped to teach a unit on solar energy in their science curriculum and a few are considering installing solar panels on their own homes. If students ask, "What did you do on your Professional Development Day?” they may be intrigued by the answer, "Went by wine tour van on a Solar Safari!"
Written by: Brita Park, Education Committee